The NBA is a bit like Game Of Thrones, with less nudity (mostly) and dragons.
You have multiple contenders for the throne, some who are fighting to recapture old glories and others who starved for a first shot at the crown.
No one is safe. We saw this last year with the Durant, Irving and Love injuries – and of course with recent events we are reminded how much of a moving target the chase for a title truly is.
Then there are the White Walkers, a seeming inevitability that are the San Antonio Spurs. Their stifling defense and cold, machine like precision on offense are enough to send chills down anyone’s spine.
We even have our own Jon Snow is the form of Stephen Curry. Everyone knows he’s the rightful heir to the crown, but there’s this little hinderance getting in the way of him taking it.
Curry does not need a resurrection to save his team’s season, but Golden State may have gotten some luck from the old gods and new with the events of the last 24 hours.
Be careful out there NBA fans, the night is dark….
Just hours after the Golden State Warriors were hit with the news that Stephen Curry will miss around two weeks with a Grade 1 MCL sprain, Chris Paul broke his hand in the third quarter of the Clippers’ 98-84 loss to the Trail Blazers.
This is brutal. Chris Paul was in the midst of one of the best season’s in his Hall of Fame career. Paul had been averaging 24 points, 7 assists, and over 2 steals in the series. In any other season, Paul would have been a top contender for MVP, carrying a Blake Griffen-less to the four seed in the Western Conference.
I had been thinking all day about how Paul had to be chomping at the bit to finish off the Trail Blazers and get a chance to take out the defending champs before Steph Curry could get back in the lineup. Now the Clipper face an uphill challenge of beating a confident Blazers squad without their court general.
It’s not just that LA is losing one of the great offensive minds in the game, they are also left having to find an answer on defense to the two headed dragon of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard. The two have been improving every game of these playoffs.
There was a lot less isolation out of Portland’s offense last night. The ball has been moving around, and players like Al-Farouq Aminu who scored a career high 30 points, were key in the Blazers win. Mason Plumlee is showing that he one of the best passing big men league, doling out 10 assists, while grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking four shots.
The Clippers still hold home court advantage in this series that is now tied up at 2-2, but the advantage has swung decisively in Portland’s favor. As much as Austin Rivers has improved in the last year, he is a huge step down from Chris Paul, especially on offense. Jamal Crawford will see increased minutes for the Clips, but his defense is brutal and he is playing against the best backcourt currently in the playoffs (given Steph’s status).
It feels a little twisted to think about how all of these series are going to pan out given the current rash of injuries, but if the Portland/LA series goes to seven games the Warriors get a couple extra days of rest. Curry’s timetable for return is not set in stone, there is a chance that he could return by game two or three of the next series. That’s if they can dispose of the Rockets tomorrow night without Curry.
The Oklahoma City Thunder advanced to the second round last night by disposing of the Dallas Mavericks, in a 118-104 game that was filled with pregame drama.
Before the game Dallas’ enigmatic owner, Marc Cuban said of Russel Westbrook, “I think he’s an All-Star but not a superstar.” This led to much conversation on the interwebs, and served as a great interlude to Westbrook’s dominating 36 point, 9 assist, 12 rebound outing.
I’m not sure if Cuban is off base with his comments. When I think of the word superstar, I tend to think of NBA players who transcend the game like LeBron James and Stephen Curry, but if my team was playing for their playoff lives the last thing I would want to do is rile up Russell Westbrook. Westbrook may not be a superstar in the conventional sense, but he is an absolute X-Man on the court. He’s one of the handful of players I’ve watched in my lifetime that has no parallel.
Westbrook was two rebounds a game short of averaging a triple-double on the season. He has the best first step in the game, and delivers a couple of moments in every game that are awe inspiring. Watch him go up for an offensive rebound, land, then take off like a Sonic Boom back towards the basket. He attacks the basket with such ferocity that you would think it was holding his kids hostage. Russell may not be a “Superstar” but he is the closest thing to a shooting star we have in the game.
Durant took the opportunity to call Cuban an “idiot” in the post-game press conference. The former MVP has definitely been a bit prickly as of late. There was the flagrant two in game four, the litany of mean mugs after made baskets, and now this. There is an incredible amount of pressure on this team to get back to the NBA Finals, especially given Durant’s upcoming free-agency.
The Thunders two super… stars definitely have their phasers set to kill right now.
The OKC will start their series with the San Antonio Spurs next Monday. Get your popcorn ready. It’s going to be savage.